The New Orchard CMS Website

3 minute read

As a web developer and Orchard Community member it pains me every time I visit the main Orchard CMS website. Ever since the website’s first release back in 2009, the site hasn’t changed that much but as you know the web considerably has. With new mobile devices, higher screen resolutions, design trends and huge advances in web technologies the landscape has significantly changed how we build and experience websites.

I’m therefore delighted to announce that I’ll be redeveloping the site, working closely with Microsoft and the Orchard Community.

The process of redeveloping a website covers many areas such as research, marketing, information architecture, user experience, design, development, testing and project management. I’m hoping to document my approach by blogging as I’m going through the process whilst getting valuable feedback from the Community.


Before embarking on any redevelopment, its imperative that we understand the objectives of the website. These objectives may be different from when the site was first developed so its worth just checking that there are no changes or additions.

The Orchard website has very simple objectives:

  1. Get users to download and/or try Orchard (to hopefully then lead to adoption)
  2. Support current users of the platform
  3. Create awareness of the platform
  4. Encourage users to participate in the growth and development of the platform

Each objective has a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that we measure through Google Analytics. The KPI’s need to be measurable, e.g. ‘more than 1000 downloads per month’ or ‘20% extra tutorial views per month’. The KPI’s are used so we can determine if the website is achieving its objectives or subsequently if not, optimise accordingly.

The Audience

We need to understand the target and current audience to ensure we’re reaching the right people or whilst conducting our research, we may find additional markets that we are unaware of. Unfortunately, getting reliable information is not easy and in most circumstances, we need to combine several sources. Here are the sources of information I used:

  • Domain Knowledge
  • Google Analytics
  • Hitwise
  • User Interviews
  • Alexa

Alexa Demographics

Based on the my research, I’ve grouped the audience into three groups:

  1. Creators
  2. End Users
  3. Researchers

Creators: Typically, developers & designers but could include architects, DBA’s (for the few that still exist) etc. “Creators” that are new to Orchard are looking for the product detail such as technology, in-depth features, reassurance etc. If they are already using an existing CMS and are looking to switch, then they will be looking to compare with what they already know. Whereas existing Orchard users are more likely interested in the community support and documentation. Currently, the documentation, forum/chat and gallery are off-site so catering for existing Creators is more around sign-posting to the relevant external resource.

End Users: Typically, website administrators or semi-technical users such as “implementers” but could include users from the “Creators” group e.g. developers with a blog or a designer with a portfolio website. This group are looking for user guides, how-to articles and themes/modules.

Researchers: Typically, clients and managers that are needing to ensure that adopting Orchard is the right thing for them and their company. They may or may not have heard of Orchard before, so they will be looking for varying degrees of reassurance. Testimonials, case studies and client showcases are key areas for this type of user. They are less bothered about the technical detail but more about the commercial viability. So key things such as open source, free and on-going product development are a must to highlight.

Next Steps

Now that we understand the what we are trying to achieve, we can look at how well the current site delivers on this. In addition, it’s a good idea to look at similar sites.

  1. Objectives & Audience (this post)
  2. Orchard CMS Website Audit
  3. Comparing CMS Vendor Websites
  4. Humanising our Audience with Personas
  5. Project Requirements for the New Orchard Website
  6. User Journeys for the New Orchard Website
  7. Information Architecture for the New Orchard Website